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Methadone Clinics: The Secret Files

1 June 2011 2 Comments

Often it’s the unusual experiences at methadone clinics that make it to the press. The overwhelming majority of the successful cases are often unheard and the few untoward practices and outcomes at these clinics do come to define the public perception towards them. However, in most cases the negativity associated with methadone detox clinics are from rumors and overblown lapses of only a very few of them.

Do methadone clinics profit from getting patients addicted on methadone?

How long you stay on methadone depends solely on you. Sure, rehab clinics make money as long as you attend them and keep taking methadone but that is not sufficient motivation for them to keep you there. The truth is that most methadone clinic will prefer a lesser patient load. There are more addicts needing attention for most methadone clinics to want old patients to stay longer than necessary. Some say methadone maintenance therapy should last no longer than six months or one year while others contend that indefinitely using methadone is good so long as it keeps the ex-addict from relapsing. There are no hard and fast rules here but you should have a personal goal when attending methadone.

Is methadone addiction worse than opiate addiction?

No. Methadone has an addictive potential but it really does not have a true addictive profile. It does not cause permanent damage or significantly impair bodily functions and neither do patients show increasing tolerance to it. Even for patients who are “addicted” to methadone, methadone detox is far less painful than opiate detox. Sure, it takes longer simply because methadone is a longer acting drug at the opioid receptors than opiates but the withdrawal symptoms of methadone detox are milder and can be easily managed.

What about methadone’s long-term damage to the body?

Purported long-term damage to the body in patients attending methadone clinics include liver function impairment, rotting teeth, weight gain and compromised immunity. These are in no way true and are definitely results of the addict’s prior opiate addiction. Long-term damage of opiate dependence is cumulative and often unobserved during addiction because addicts do not have access to professional medical care and are not in the state of mind to fully access their health. The damages from old lifestyle often present during methadone maintenance therapy and are wrongfully blamed on methadone.

Do methadone clinics overcharge?

Methadone clinics can be public or private. Private clinics, like all private clinics, can charge a whole lot more than public ones. However, they provide better medical care and often provide other helpful therapies such as counseling, physical and group therapy. Public clinics are far cheaper and see more patients but provide only the core components of methadone maintenance therapy.

Are all methadone clinics dirty and depressing?
No. Of course some methadone clinics will be badly run. Dirty, depressing facilities can also be found in specialist and dental practices too. Rehab clinics are mostly strictly run according to federal and state regulations but if the state of your clinic will affect your recovery, you can always change to another clinic even though the new one could be farther.

Do methadone clinics help besides doling out methadone?
Private clinics usually help beyond just issuing methadone. They provide other forms of help to get addicted on a fast road to recovery with a staff of trained doctors, counselors and support staff. Still the quality of service will vary from clinic to clinic. You can depend on your doctor’s recommendation to know which methadone clinics provide core and adjunct therapies for addicts.

Are methadone clinics largely unsuccessful with detox?
No, they have more successful cases than failures. It’s only unfortunate that it’s the failed recoveries that get the most press time. Well-run methadone clinics following the best practices produce successful results more often than others. Of course, equal


  • James---jamesofthecommons said:

    Most of this article is true to the point;however,I ceartainly disagree with the claims that methadone has no true addictive profile,and that methadone withdrawal is in no way as severe as true opoid withdrawal.I know from personal experence that daily methadone use does indeed lead to tolerance development,and that following daily methadone ingestion of 80 milligrams or greater,for more than a year,sudden cessation from this drug can indeed lead to severe and prolonged withdrawal.I,at one point in the battle with my own opoid addiction,expereanced methadone withdrawal symptoms of a severe nature for nearly a month,and continued to feel ill for at least two months before rebeginning methadone maintainance.It has been my expereance that the severity of methadone withdrawal is greater than that of morphine,due to the prolonged nature of the illness.To be fair,I must reinuate that severe methadone withdrawal is likely to occour following prolonged ingestion of 80 milligrams or more per- day.It may be the case that ingestion doses below this level,in fact do not pose a risk of severe withdrawal upon cessation.

  • Jay Schneider said:

    I have to agree with James on this one. I have finally been relieved of a methadone maintainence program I have been on for 10 years now, off and on. I have been an addict for most of my life, and I have to say that methadone is by far the hardest drug I have had to detox from. A person can still easily feel withdrawal symptoms 30 days after stopping it. Where as a person detoxing “cold turkey” from heroin will stop feeling these effects after a week. Two weeks and you can not even tell you were on heroin.
    While there are many positive things about methadone – No risk of contracting HIV, steady supply, cost, not having to go into areas or deal with people that might be dangerous, available counseling, among other benefits. Not to mention the lives it has saved. (Including mine). It is definitely the hardest drug to get off of that I have ever encountered. I have even enrolled in a rehab program to rid myself of the “cure” I used to address a heroin addiction. Never again.

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